Rafting the Noguera Pallaresa in Catalonia

White-rafting in Catalonia….in September…how hard could it be?

You should never, never ask yourself this question. It’s asking for trouble. It’s tempting the universe – and in case you didn’t know…the universe wins….always. Apparently though I’m a slow learner. I had asked myself that very same question only the day before, when the opportunity to do a via ferrata presented itself. And although it ended well, the process of getting there sure wasn’t pretty! And yet, what did I do the very next day? I reasoned with myself I only had two goals 1)Not to get soaked, 2)Not to get thrown out of the raft. How difficult could it be?

This is what I was expecting:

rafting the Noguera Pallaresa River in Catalonia

It was near this tranquil spot our guide told us we could get out and for a swim if we were so inclined. Two brave souls took him up on his challenge, braving the frigid waters. I was not one of them. See goal #1 above.

Very peaceful and scenic part of the river.

We continued on down the slow-moving, but scenic river valley. The big grins splashed on our face, were perhaps a precursory something else that would soon be on our faces:

Starting off our rafting voyage

The Noguera Pallaresa turned to class 3 rapids. A bit more adventure, but still a blast. Everyone is still smiling!:

white water on the Noguera Pallaresa River, but still having a blast.
That’s me on the left, second from the front. A good place to sit to ensure that goals #1 and 2 were met, right?

Loving the Class 3 rapids of the Noguera Pallaresa

I was even up for the challenge of paddling with my eyes closed:

Eyes shut to try and keep the water out while rafting.

Things started getting really adventurous in the brief, but powerful class 4 rapids. For the first time, I started thinking that it would actually be possible to get thrown out…

Getting drenched while rafting Class 4 rapids on the Noguera Pallaresa
And a second later, I found myself somersaulting out of the raft and into the water gasping for air as I pulled myself to the surface above the rapids. The water came up to my waist, but was very powerful – as rapids tend to be! I could hear voices and not the usual ones in my head – I kid, well mostly…but couldn’t make out any words. The rapids were too loud. I wasn’t swimming, just dragging along the bottom of the river bed, knees seeming to catch every sharp rock along the way. Over the crush of the waves I saw a yellow burst of color, aka a paddle! I reached out, drag, drag, drag, scrape, scrape, scrape. I panicked. I’m going to get stuck on a rock and end up breaking a bone – my worst fear, to break a bone and not be under anesthetic. Drag, drag, drag some more. Finally I reached the boat, but too exhausted and in shock, could barely make an effort to pull myself back into the boat. Marco, my hero! Thank you for pulling me up especially since I had been indulging a little too much in Catalan cuisine. In a display of the most inelegant kind, I found myself in a heap on the bottom of the raft. Close to hyperventilating, and resembling a drowned raft,but safe again in the raft. I took a minute to catch my rasping breath, then hauled my bruised body onto the side of the raft and started paddling. A couple of minutes later I was smiling again. The bruises would disappear after a couple of weeks, but getting thrown out of a raft? That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Oh wait, did I just inadvertently tempt the universe again?


Rafting the Noguera Pallaresa in Catalonia: What You Need to Know:

  • Despite getting drenched and thrown out of the raft, I loved every minute of it!
  • The water is really cold in September, hence goal #1.
  • Our rafting was booked through Rubber River in Sort.
  • Rafting costs between €41 – €96 a person depending on the length of the trip you choose.
  • You will be accompanied by a professional guide.
  • In addition to rafting, Rubber River also offers kayaking, canoeing, canyoning, bungee jumping, horse back riding and more.
  • While you’re in the Pyrenees, I also recommend hiking the Vall de Núria.

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Laurel Robbins


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